Posts Tagged ‘Public out of prisons’

For years we held weekend writing workshops in the programs building of the prison. 15 outside writers joined 15 inside writers to spend the weekend talking about writing and about prison. We ate together, but the outsiders went home at night. Everyone who attended these workshops loved them. The insiders forgot they were in jail and realized there was a world out there that might just accept them. The outsiders found out that inmates were not snarling killers, but people who had made a mistake in life. One year the director of education said that the workshops had to be moved to the visiting area. Here there was no way to break down into smaller groups, and it was very uncomfortable for the inmates. A camera spied down from above while a microphone picked up every conversation on every table.

Over and over I suggested we return to the programs building. Answer no. Reason given – none. Finally someone told me the truth. Administration did want outsiders into the “deepest part of the prison.” I argued that it had worked fine for years. Why was it changed? No answer.

My friend Mike Oulton told me about life in Mexican prisons. Yes, they were poorer, but families often came in and ate meals in the cells.

Why are the public in general kept out of Canadian and American prisons?